1983: New USTTA Editor Tom Wintrich Replaces 50-Year-Old “Table Tennis Topics” with “SPIN.” 1983: Boggan’s Fury at President Schiff’s Public Explanation as to Why Tim was Fired as “Topics” Editor. 1983: Boggan Immediately Begins Renegade “Timmy’s North American World of Table Tennis.” 1983: Initial Responses to SPIN and “Timmy’s” from readers.
In Editor Tom Wintrich’s first issue of the new USTTA magazine, he explains (July-Aug., 1983, 5), “Why SPIN”? Here in part is what he said:
“…Spin dominates the game and if you aim to master table tennis on any level, you’d better acknowledge spin and learn to exploit its power.
…SPIN—the magazine—is committed to explaining the complexities of the game.
In so doing, SPIN is first dedicated to all players at every level of competition, because acquiring technical knowledge and learning how to implement it is an endless process in everyone’s game. Consequently, SPIN will attempt to provide an endless amount of information on all aspects of the sport, both from a national and international perspective.
SPIN is also dedicated to…administrators and organizers—they’re the people that take the foundation and build a lasting structure….
Consider the USTTA’s situation as it begins its second fifty years. National Headquarters and an Executive Director located in the National Sports Building on the U.S. Olympic Training Center complex in Colorado Springs; USOC budget allocations to bring in our players to train; possible establishment of a permanent training facility and permanent coach in Colorado Springs; computerization of USTTA business; annual participation in the National Sports Festival; quadrennial involvement in the Pan American Games; and competitive inclusion in the 1988 Olympics. Undoubtedly, an impressive line-up of established programs, and the people who will be responsible for their successful implementation are the organizers of the sport, especially the Executive Committee and the Executive Director.
…The collective effort needs a collective mind and this can best be attained via the national publication, now called SPIN….It’s YOUR magazine.”
On that same page in SPIN, Wintrich salutes Topics and thanks its previous Editor, Tim Boggan:
“No one was more aware of my desire to edit the national publication than Tim Boggan. My first attempt to get his job was in 1977 at the winter E.C. meeting at Caesars Palace. My bid was voted down by a 2-1 margin. At the ’81 Princeton Open I tried again and although the vote was closer, I still lost. Then, at the Tropicana U.S. Open last June in Las Vegas, my perseverance paid off when the EC voted in my favor.
The recent changes within the USTTA provide me with more advantages as editor than were ever available to Tim Boggan. Besides working out of Headquarters which keeps me in daily contact with USTTA business, I compose all copy on my own computer terminal. In terms of writing and storage of information, it is far superior than any typewriter, but the biggest advantage is that I can send all copy direct to the printer’s typesetting computer via the telephone lines. That eliminated paying a typesetting fee and is the reason SPIN can occasionally afford a four-color front page. Additional benefits working out of Headquarters include use of the WATTS line, sophisticated copy machines, and the services of the Olympic Training Center mail room.
Tim Boggan never had it so good, but still he edited over 90 consecutive issues of Topics during the past 13 years. That’s a remarkable record of consistent performances and he deserves public recognition of that continuous effort. He did all that, mind you, while working a full-time job, contending with the competitive careers of two of America’s best players, and using outdated technology such as a typewriter.
…SPIN looks out on the second fifty years from a much more stable and opportunistic position: Headquarters, USOC funding, training camps, NSF-Pan American competition, and, not far down the road, the 1988 Olympics. Assess the publications with those differences in mind and perhaps you’ll understand that without Topics there would be no SPIN, and now that there’s a SPIN, there is no longer Topics. [But, ah, Tommy boy, there’s now an increasingly well-received Timmy’s.]
In acknowledging my predecessor, I would like to quote myself from the ‘79 Annual: ‘Throughout all of his long involvement with table tennis and the USTTA Tim Boggan has proven one thing—he is a producer. And while many have criticized him, he has carried on with his hard work, impervious to the many small voices that don’t understand what he has accomplished. Table Tennis thanks Tim Boggan.’
So does Tom Wintrich. Peace—my friend.”
Peace? Peace, did you say, Tom?
I went all-out in my own first (July-Aug., 1983) issue of Timmy’s North American World of Table Tennis. It was a make or break powerhouse 32-pager, for which I got help from my (former Topics) printer. He ran off thousands of copies, free, for me, so I could send one to every USTTA member. In an editorial I said:
“Never mind the adder nastiness—I’m no longer angry enough (at least I’m trying hard not to be) to write here about the way those with most power in the USTTA treated me after my 13 years and 91 issues of Topics.
This new paper is my only real positive answer to them.
Never mind the puffy niceties either. People who want to know can always see what I’m up to. It’s as straightforward as this: If you enjoy Timmy’s, think it valuable to the Sport, then buy it, and urge your friends to buy it. Otherwise, there won’t be any more like it.
Subscription info’s on the back cover.”
I’ll return at chapter’s end to show the responses of readers to these new publications. Now, however, since readers have to be curious as to the as yet unexplained manner of my firing, which, along with Schiff’s explanation below, will fuel my run in the ‘84 Election against Sol for the USTTA Presidency, I’m going to jump ahead to articles of explanation—and this time I will show my fangs.
Here’s USTTA President Sol Schiff’s explanation as to why Boggan was fired as Topics Editor (Timmy’s, Nov.-Dec., 1983, 6; SPIN, Dec., 1983, 7):
“It troubles me that many members still do not understand the motivation behind two very important decisions the Executive Committee made at its meeting last summer. It also bothers me that needless controversy was created concerning one of these decisions. I am referring directly to Larry Thoman’s guest editorial in the September-October issue of Timmy’s North American World of Table Tennis.’ [I’ll return to the Thoman-Schiff controversy later.]
…The other decision I referred to earlier concerns the change in editors. I want the membership to realize that the Executive Committee never fired Tim Boggan. If anything he himself ruined any chance he had at being retained as editor of “Topics” by his actions at that summer meeting.
First, though, I want to explain why his job was in jeopardy. During the last six months of his editorship, the quality of “Topics” had declined and many members began objecting to its contents, especially the article in the March issue written by his son Scott. During these months, the EC had asked Boggan for an editorial policy that would be acceptable to the E.C. and the membership. This he didn’t do. Now enter Wintrich.
Four years ago, Tom Wintrich submitted an excellent proposal to become editor of “Topics.” Two years later he submitted another one. On both of these occasions, the E.C. voted to award the contract to Boggan. Wintrich submitted another proposal this year and gave a calm, informative talk on what he would do if he were accepted as editor. In contrast, Boggan’s address to the E.C. was a verbal outburst that contained the foulest language I have heard at any meeting. Most of his anger was directed at me and Pat O’Neill.
When it came time to vote, everyone but E.C. members were asked to leave the room. Tim Boggan refused and I ruled that he could stay for the vote. I wanted an open vote but the rest of the E.C. voted unanimously for a closed ballot. The vote was Wintrich four, Boggan three, and I feel, despite Boggan’s recent “Topics,” that he would have received that extra vote needed if he had acted in a more rational manner. I know how emotional Boggan acts at times, but I also know he is dedicated to the sport. I have sympathy for him but I am relieved that he no longer edits the official publication of the USTTA.
Wintrich does not have a contract. He is on a six-month trial period and his performance will be evaluated at the upcoming winter meeting.”
[Sol now addresses his attention to Stan Robens and Pat O’Neill, “who was instrumental in getting Tom Wintrich to be editor of our magazine,” both of whom by now, says Sol, had “quit” the E.C. He closes his article by saying…]
It is not my intention to stir up anymore controversy concerning the subjects I have discussed. The E.C. made important decisions and thus far they seem to have been the correct ones. Although some of you may disagree, I hope you at least understand why the E.C. voted the way it did.”
I then showed my understanding of Sol’s article in the following way (Timmy’s, Jan. 1984, 2;18); SPIN, Jan., 1984, 22-23):
“Anyone can become angry—that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way—that is not easy.”
“Those who show insufficient anger, Aristotle said, are morally blameworthy. It is thought that (such people) do not feel or suffer, and that…(if a man) is never angry he will not defend himself, and it is considered slavish to tolerate contemptuous treatment of oneself or to watch one’s friends treated contemptuously.
Without the proper amount of anger, without moral indignation, we would lose the desire to protect our friends from our enemies, and our own nation from its enemies.”
Claremont Institute for the study of Statesmanship
And Political Philosophy
Sol Schiff, alias Mr. Table Tennis—better make that Mr. U.S. Table Tennis—in both the Nov.-Dec. issue of Timmy’s World and the Dec. issue of SPIN purports to speak not only for himself but for his summer of ’83 E.C. members—the now resigned Pat O’Neill, Rufford Harrison, Mel Eisner, Lyle Thiem, Gus Kennedy, Bill Hornyak, and the absent Stan Robens—in order that the USTTA membership might understand “why the E.C. voted as it did” concerning my—that is, Tim Boggan’s—dismissal after 13 years as Editor of Topics.
In my answer here to Mr. U.S. Table Tennis, I intend to provide background information and an analysis that will allow interested, non-apathetic USTTA members to better understand the motivation behind Sol’s writing and the lizard-like camouflaged nature of it, so that he—our
President for the past eight years—will be exposed to the membership for the unscrupulous maneuverer and liar that he now is.
Prior to the Tokyo World’s, from the early fall of ’82 on, there had been a considerable testiness between Sol and me, precipitated no doubt by my feelings that for some time now he had not been a good leader, but brought to a head because of his attempt, via his (what else can I call him?) hatchet man Rufford Harrison, to immediately suspend—secretly suspend without due process—my older son Scott, primarily for giving away a trophy abroad. (No wonder Schiff’s repeatedly been negligent in responding to the USOC’s “greatly distressed” Col. Miller—one of the points under inquiry has to do with “The provision of the USTTA Constitution for procedures for prompt and equitable resolution of grievances filed by an athlete [in this case, Kasia Gaca on Sept. 1, 1983] or any other member of the USTTA.”)
When the Disciplinary Committee, after finally hearing the charges brought by Harrison/Schiff against Scott, and the counter-charges brought by me against Harrison, when that Committee in the person of Dr. Michael Scott handed down a stand-off (Let’s all keep calm, be understanding, forgiving) verdict—he, Dr. Scott, after 11 years in the Chair, was immediately fired by Sol (though of course as is typical in the Schiff administration not notified of his firing) and replaced by Wendell Dillon.
This was followed by Scott’s “punishment”—Scott Boggan’s, that is. He was denied, after winning the U.S. Men’s Singles, the National Sports Festival Singles and Doubles, and the U.S. Amateur, the Amateur Athlete of the Year Award. I never could get a straight answer from Haid or anyone as to who even voted the Award to Sean O’Neill. But, o..k., though I thought it an outrageous injustice, I let it pass. I was after all a good friend of Pat O’Neill’s and Sean had worked hard and successfully at the sport.
Then, accompanying the spring E.C. elections, there came out of nowhere—on the ballot itself—questions regarding my editorship of Topics, the compiled answers to which of course I was never to see. Imagine the response of the membership if cards had gone out of Haid’s office with questions of a critical nature on just what Haid and Schiff had been doing for the last five years. What was Mr. U.S. Table Tennis’s intention in allowing these ballots to be selectively marked so?
And was it really true, proud as I am, conscious always of Topics’ historical importance, that, as Schiff says, from Nov. of ’82 through April of ’83, I allowed the quality of Topics to decline? I invite interested readers, including those who didn’t like a line in my son’s March article, or the article itself, to look through those half-dozen issues and see if I wasn’t conscientious.
I didn’t have an editorial policy acceptable to the “membership,” says Schiff. Yeah? Who is he to talk unilaterally for the membership? Let them speak for themselves. Even great differences of opinion bespeak vitality. Meanwhile, Timmy’s without a break continues exactly where Topics left off, and with each issue more subscribers, more advertisers rally behind it. These readers don’t need Schiff to speak for them—not the way he speaks. They’ve known all along what I don’t have to state but did state in both Topics and Timmy’s that the paper I edit “demonstrably offers to the membership a system of checks and balances on me or anyone in the USTTA who consciously or unconsciously abuses his or her Authority.”
By mid-spring of ’83, I really didn’t want anything much to do with Schiff. But a few days before I was to leave for the World’s I had to have a letter signed by Sol which would verify I was going (at my own $2,000 expense) to Japan as a table tennis reporter. Sol was very cooperative, insisted on accompanying me to a copy machine in his neighborhood, insisted on paying for the xeroxed copies himself. How nice.
Little did I know, though, that even then he, O’Neill, Haid, Wintrich, and God knows who else had already begun a private fait accompli to replace me as Editor.
How did I eventually find out? No sooner had we gotten to Tokyo than the bomb was dropped by Team Manager Bill Steinle. “Yeah,” he said as were just sitting around that afternoon, “Haid told me a few days ago in Colorado Springs, ‘Tim’s not gonna be the Editor anymore.’” Later that evening, when Steinle sought to confirm this with Schiff, Sol told him, “Well, it hasn’t formally been approved yet, but you’ll like the new guy.”
Schiff sure sounded pretty sure of himself, huh? That means when Haid was casually, prematurely making public what had been going on in private, and Sol was saying in effect that it was a mere formality for the E.C. to approve the likeable new guy, Wintrich, Mr. U.S. Table Tennis could count on the votes of Schiff, O’Neill, Harrison, and who else to effect the changeover?
I was really sick at heart in Tokyo—mostly at O’Neill, the E.C. member I’d been conscientiously communicating with and whom I felt betrayed by. I knew from the way Schiff had tried to suspend Scott without a hearing how manipulative he had been and was again, and I just didn’t want to talk to him at all.
When I came home it was all I could do to get the last issue of Topics out. Not one word did Sol say to me in April in Tokyo or all through May and into June, not one scrawled note, not one phone call, did I get from Mr. U.S. Table Tennis or his ally O’Neill. It was as if I didn’t exist, as if my 91 issues of Topics didn’t matter. Better now I just disappear quietly—die, as it were.
Finally, incensed at the way I’d been treated, I came unannounced and uninvited to the June E.C. meeting—that same meeting that Sol has the nerve to say in his article that, had I not gotten angry, I would have been retained as Editor.
Wintrich, I soon found out, had replaced me to cover the National Sports Festival, which of course as Topics Editor I’d covered the last two years. I had planned to go to Colorado Springs—that had been a big factor in my decision last winter not to teach this summer (for 20 years I’d taught in the summer). All approve of the replacement? I sat quietly, my outrage mounting—I who Schiff now says was going to be retained as Editor if I did not get angry. It was as if I were dead to them. Not a dissenting word. Almost as an afterthought, Harrison, without looking at me, asked, “Has Boggan been notified?”…”No,” came the answer from Haid.
At this point I could hold it in no longer. “Never in my life have I been so badly treated,’ I told them. “How you must hate or fear me,” I said. Oh, yes, I used a curse word or two. And what did my anger get me? An apology on behalf of the E.C. by Harrison, a few meaningless words from Schiff—and what’s the next item on the agenda?
Quickly now it came out that even while we were in Tokyo, Schiff, acting in private concert with O’Neill, Haid, and God knows who else, had authorized Wintrich’s moving expenses to Colorado Springs and had begun paying him $1,000 a month.
And did USTTA Treasurer Lyle Thiem know about these checks, what they were for? No, he did not. Lyle will later “out” himself as that Mr. X who cast the swing vote for Wintrich.
But, hey, it’s all O.K. You’ll like the new guy. In fact, say a few words, Tom—about how your experience has made you a better Editor, a better writer than Tim; how in place of Tim’s declining paper, you’ll make your SPIN come alive.
Be glad to say a few words, Pat. Be glad to say a few words, Sol.
Listening to Tom’s pre-packaged bullshit, sick to death of all their conniving (How could I work with such people?), I did indeed indignantly let forth a few choice words from the heart.
“Politics is emotion,” said Lyle. And then they prepared their secret vote and Haid prepared to count the results.
Next morning over breakfast, Gus Kennedy apologized to me—said in his earlier informal pre-Meeting talks with some other E.C. members, it never appeared that I was going to get so many votes, never appeared that the vote would be so 4-3 close. He said he’d voted for me and at the last minute had tried to get others to vote for me.
Now, six months later, the membership receives this Nov.-Dec. article of explanation from Mr. Table Tennis. Allow me, please—I make a living at it—to analyze Schiff’s rhetoric.
Sol speaks of the proposals Tom Wintrich made—one four years ago, the other two years ago to become Editor of Topics. On both occasions, says Sol, “the E.C. voted to award the contract to Boggan.” That’s good, huh? I mean, it’s nice to know Sol admits that the E.C. has some policy-making power of its own. Or does he admit it? For he writes that at their meeting in June of ’83, “the Executive Committee never fired Tim Boggan.” Period. The period’s important—for it allows the reader to hold that thought, irrespective for the moment of what follows. And, indeed, I think a mixed-up part of Sol himself holds it—as if saying, Hey, never mind the E.C., I’m the President. I unilaterally appoint the National Publication Chair. But then he continues with the line corroborating the power of the E.C.--says, Had Tim not gotten angry, he, Tim, would have received “that extra vote needed” to retain his Editorship. What confusingly, self-contradictingly does Sol mean when he says, “I want the membership to realize that the Executive Committee never fired Tim Boggan”?
“If anything,” says Sol, “he himself ruined almost any chance he had of being retained as Editor of Topics by his actions at that summer meeting. “If anything”—we all know the idiom. Sol means to create the impression that so far from the truth is it that the E.C. fired me, that “if anything”—if the truth is at all to prevail—it was I who fired myself.
And, gee, just by one vote. It was expected to be a close vote right from the beginning, was it? That’s why not a word had been said to me. (Would the USTTA have asked for their money back from Tom if the vote had gone the other way?) Why I wasn’t even invited to the meeting. Why, as Wintrich was voted in to replace me to cover the National Sports Festival, not a dissenting hand went up? Who, knowing the facts, could believe Sol’s smooth Tim-fired-himself bullshit. But the membership doesn’t know the facts and Sol doesn’t want them to. “I feel,” says Mr. U.S. Table Tennis, “despite Boggan’s recent ‘Topics,’” that he would have received that extra vote needed if he had acted in a more rational manner.” For Christ’s sake, Tim, you behaved as if there were money changers in the temple. You really must learn to control your temper. Until you came into the room and got angry we were all in accord—unanimous in our belief that Wintrich should replace you. Oh, the more I write, the more rational, the more analytic I am here, the angrier at Schiff I’m getting. (Standing Rule #30, 188.8.131.52: “Any officer of the USTTA, elected or appointed, may be removed from office at any time for cause upon recommendation of the USTTA Disciplinary Committee, acting upon its own motion or upon a written appeal from a member, and approved by a 2/3 majority of the E.C.”)
I fired myself? And yet in the same breath Sol says that with Tim’s show of anger he “ruined almost any chance he had of being retained as Editor.” Really? So how were my chances before I got angry? Not good, obviously. For, says Schiff, “what little chance I had,” I ruined.
Where the hell is Sol’s head?
Can any fair-minded person, knowing the background context out of which Schiff’s Nov.-Dec. article was written, and listening—really listening—to Schiff’s evasive voice, feel that this man is to be trusted?
The inescapable conclusion is that Sol’s article—with its self-contradictions, its calculated evasions, its calm, deliberate meant-to-be-oh-so-convincing rhetoric of half-truths and lies to 5,000 people—is exactly what those privy to this increasingly Capt. Queeg-like authority figure have come to expect in this his eighth and hopefully last year of exercising unilateral impotence-under-the-guise-of-power in office.
“It is not my intention to stir up anymore controversy” concerning Tim’s dismissal, says Mr. U.S. Table Tennis. Yeah? Then why, knowing what he knows, having acted as he’s acted, did he even attempt this face-saving/two-faced article? Because he’s so out of touch with free-press reality as to think I wouldn’t have the right to respond to it?
For six months I’ve publicly held back, but enough is enough, and for all those USTTA members who want honest leaders I offer to Sol not sour grapes but something with the paradoxical fervor of both a dash of wine in the face and—if he resigns his office, and only if he resigns his office—the upraised flask of holy communion.”
Not surprisingly, two SPIN readers (Feb., 1984, 5) didn’t like my article, didn’t like me. Here’s Henry Godshall, Jr., Perkasie, PA:
“Boggan’s ‘Rebuttal’ in the January issue of SPIN is, in itself, the best possible explanation of why the USTTA Executive Committee dropped him from its staff. His obscene writings have been a source of disgust and embarrassment to us all. Whoever initiated the proposal to remove him as editor deserves not only a huge trophy, but the heartfelt thanks of all who want to see table tennis receive greater recognition in the future.”
And here’s Norman Silver, Life Member, CO:
“I read with interest Tim Boggan’s rebuttal of table tennis. Not Mr. Table Tennis but the sport itself. Mr. Boggan is an angry man who is blinded by the glare of power. It is wrong for anyone to assume that because of past service, future service can be assured.
Certainly Mr. Boggan knew there were many members who were dissatisfied with his handling of “Topics.” He had defended himself only two years before and retained the editorship. Surely there are no lifetime jobs! Burnout is most common and new ideas must be injected into any project to keep it from becoming tired and a negative force. I’m sure that if Mr. Wintrich’s new ideas dry up, he CAN and SHOULD be replaced.
At least President Schiff is willing to listen and allow new ideas into the Association.
I say, ‘Goodbye, Mr. Boggan.’”
Also, one reader (of Timmy’s?...of SPIN?) wrote a personal letter to me so the writer will here be anonymous—but his point of view (Timmy’s, Feb.-Mar., 1984, 3) requires my own in answer.
I’ve just read your anti-Schiff diatribe and I wish to cancel my subscription to your publication. Don’t bother with a refund; just take my name off your list.
Much as I will miss your reporting I must do this as a protest. You may have a good case to present, but to indulge so viciously at a personal level is beyond my sensitivity threshold.
You’re of course entitled to your opinion, however passionate.
But you don’t seem informed and you don’t seem fair—and, worse, you don’t seem to want to be informed or fair.
(1. You do NOT subscribe to my publication, ‘Timmy’s.’ (However, in case you’d like to, I enclose a subscription flyer.) Therefore maybe you should also take up your protest with SPIN Editor Tom Wintrich? Otherwise, you’re gonna continue to get the publication you don’t want. My god, is it somehow possible that, after supposedly reading my Schiff-attacking article, you don’t even begin to grasp the fact that eight months ago I was replaced as USTTA Editor?
(2. Your all-for-decorum morality is really weird to me. I “may” have a good case to present; I may not. You don’t know. Which means (as I’d already suspected from (1. above) you’re not much interested. It’s alright for Schiff to be smoothly dishonest, to weasel, to lie to 5,000 people at election time (or any other?) so long as he’s conventionally respectable about it? But it’s not alright for me, after holding back for six months, to get angry in response and honestly call him what in inner table tennis circles it’s well known he is—a liar?
I’m answering your note because, o.k., you wanted to communicate with me, and because, on reflection, I don’t think our psychic positions are really that far apart. As you protest in your way my indirect abuse of you, your sensibilities, so I protest in my way this man Sol’s very direct, very manipulative abuse of me and, indirectly, 5,000 others, including yourself.
How ‘angry’ are you at me to cancel your subscription, to rhetorically—with a gentleman’s scorn—wave away the money, as with a dismissive glove? Well, I’m a lot more angry than you are. And yet, like you, I recognize the necessity of controlling my anger in a civilized way.
I now return to the coming of the new publications, SPIN and Timmy’s,’ and to the initial reactions of readers as printed in the two magazines.
Here are the SPIN comments (Sept., ’83, 5):
“…I find the magazine attractive and newsy. It is well done editorially. The name “SPIN” is especially well chosen. My prediction is that table tennis players everywhere are going to be proud of their new publication.
Broun Mayall, Director, Miller High Life News Bureau,
Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs, CO”
“So often good work is taken for granted but we’re not going to let that happen. We want you to know we think SPIN is off to a good start and that you did an admirable job. You must feel proud and relieved!
We enjoyed your nice tribute to Tim, news about the home office, and the refreshing addition of color. Keep up the good work
Dan, Patti, and Pam Simon, Bethlehem, PA”
[Dan is the new USTTA Rating Chair]
“Congratulations on the first issue. I think it is great, and hope that you can keep up the ‘positive’ image that it portrays.
Bowie Martin, Wilson, NC”
[Bowie, reprising a former role, has just been appointed a USTTA Vice President.]
“I enjoyed the first edition of SPIN very much and I am looking forward to the next issue.
Dicky Thurston, Bristol, VA”
“The first issue of SPIN looks excellent.
Malcom Anderson, Cicero, Illinois”
“So impressed with SPIN.
Bill Guilfoil, Tennis Pro, Regency Park, Overland Park, KS”
“Congratulations on SPIN. It’s about time we had a professional table tennis magazine and you and your staff did an outstanding job on the first issue. I am sure you will expand SPIN and I personally feel our new USTTA magazine will elevate the image of table tennis throughout the country. Please keep up our professional image through SPIN.
Stan Robens, Phoenix, AZ”
“I am just writing to express my satisfaction with the new SPIN magazine. It is professionally written and I find it to be interesting, informative, and refreshingly objective. My sincere compliments to the SPIN staff. Keep up the good work.
Lenny D. Chew, Orlando, FL (Oct., 1983, 7)
Here are readers’ reactions to Timmy’s (It’s only to be expected that, given the colorful and renegade nature of the publication, the responses would show much more vitality than those SPIN received). I’ll begin with (Timmy’s, Sept.-Oct., 1983, 3) three signed articles, then include the many snippets sent me from supporters.
Here’s Santa Ana, CA’s Bruce Crozier writing on Sept. 1st, 1983 “An Open Letter to the Editors of SPIN and Timmy’s North American World of Table Tennis (NAWOTT):
Having received your respective premier issues I would like to offer some observations and opinions.
SPIN: Congratulations, Tom, on getting the first one in the mail. Considering the limited time allowed for a smooth transition and the near single-handedness of the effort, that alone was a difficult and reasonable first objective. As to content—well, the package was, as printed, very promising. Obviously the future will provide more time and resources and expectations. But I know you know that. What was there was clear and concise but not dry. The way it should be.
But I confess to just a faint longing for a small, kindly edited, bit of Tim’s colorful anarchy. Fear not. Yesterday it flattened my front door and thundered in with the subtlety of a bull elephant in heat.
Timmy’s NAWOTT: Tim, it’s hard to crush a new-born chick just out of its shell. But you, you old rooster, are tough and well-seasoned in this sort of thing.
Congratulations are well deserved by you too. You stood up, dusted yourself off and in some ways single-handedly put out what may be your best ‘Topics’ to date. I read all of the Huging-related articles with satisfaction. And the layout was better than ever. Not great. Better.
The question is: IS THIS MAGAZINE NECESSARY? DOES IT AID THE PROMOTION OF TT IN THE U.S.? I don’t think so.
There is no doubt that the manner of your dismissal was tasteless and insensitive. And I admire your restraint in commenting on this in print. But I think you would agree that the E.C.’s lack of class and the justification of NAWOTT’S existence are separate issues.
About NAWOTT: How many of these articles were intended for the official magazine of the USTTA and not Tim Boggan? Tournament results, news bulletins, etc. How much should have been forwarded to the new editor?
More importantly, how much will you get in the future? Certainly, as even D.M. Gunn realized, SPIN is eventually going to get all of the news. Even if you were to get all of it too, it will only be a redundant waste of trees.
You realize, I’m sure, that 90% of your potential readers are USTTA members who will get SPIN too. What’s left? Tim’s articles. Tim’s friends’ articles, and Tim’s coverage of tournaments. [Think my hundreds of subscribers might be aware of that?]
Now, one more time about your tournament coverage. It drives me, and you know I’m not alone, UP A WALL! There is color and there is journalism. Each can stand a little of the other. You can’t do them both at the same time and accomplish either. I swear, Tim, if someone broke the parenthesis on your typewriter you couldn’t finish a paragraph. I’ve stopped reading them. After a day’s work, I simply lack the energy to find my way through one.
That’s enough. You’ve heard it before. [Yes, but, like you, those same people who have reservations, DO continue to read my articles…maybe on their days off.]
Tim’s friends’ articles. This concerns me. Is this going to work into a SPIN lock-out on some of our best international players? Are Eric and Scott now off-limits to Tom? Not an accusation. Just wondering.
Tim’s articles. Tim’s color. Up-close and personal. Fine. I like it. I couldn’t live on it—but I like it.
So what’s this add up to? Two magazines where there’s surely room for one. Few sports have enough news to support more than one national publication, let alone TT.
So one will die. SPIN? Hardly. The E.C. has placed its bet (clumsily albeit), and I doubt they will suffer the embarrassment of hedging now. Tom Wintrich I know to be fully capable of succeeding as editor. His objective, and I believe that of the E.C. and Bill Haid, is a publication that will represent the sport with class, style, and professionalism to both players and potential supporters. We need that. SPIN holds all the cards. It will continue.
Timmy’s NAWOTT. Frankly, I’m pessimistic. There’s not enough news that won’t already be covered by SPIN and without the USTTA to generate subscribers I doubt many advertisers will be able to justify the expense of covering the same market twice. [Hey, the same market? SPIN didn’t publish THIS letter, right?]
I think the covers tell the story. One works to show us a sport that is as real and valid as tennis and volleyball and football. The other is reminiscent of the Berkeley Barb. Underground papers are popular in art and politics. Not sport.
Tim, there’s no check enclosed. I’ve got the money. I read and like a lot of NAWOTT. But I am more interested in seeing the sport of Table Tennis promoted.
NAWOTT doesn’t need help. It can only detract. I would rather you and your friends wrote for SPIN. I would greatly suggest an increase in membership rates to help pay you for your time and travel expense.
Like Tom, I thank you for the past. And I thank you now for the work you will do in the future. Your way or mine, I know you will keep working. [Bruce, I’m resisting a point-by-point rebuttal, but it seems to me, from a three-decade perspective later, you’re really more worried about your buddy Tom and SPIN’s survival—after all, you did design the logo for SPIN—than you are about me and Timmy’s—and maybe with good reason. Through 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 issues, I will have built up Timmy’s to where I have 915 PAID subscribers.]
Tom, your butt’s on the line now, buddy. The sizzle is there. Now let’s have the steak. You’ve wanted this for a long time. Go for it. Spin!”
Now for the next article: I was so struck by the following letter to Tom Wintrich, copy to me, that I asked Harold Weiss from Reston, VA, the writer, if he’d grant me permission to show it to Timmy’s readers. He did, so here it is [This, too, was not printed in SPIN—the magazines Timmy’s and SPIN are different]:
We all wish you well in your new endeavor, SPIN. Clearly it was necessary to have a changing of the guard with respect to Table Tennis Topics.
For many years I got vicarious enjoyment from Tim Boggan’s descriptions of major tournaments. He could write well and knew the game. I hope that he will continue such reports for SPIN. However, in recent years Tim seems to have forgotten the subhead on TOPICS, namely “The Official Magazine of the United States Table Tennis Association.” He has acted as though the publication were his private fiefdom.
The last straw, I believe, was Scott Boggan’s article in the March 1983 TOPICS. Apparently the Executive Committee reacted the same way. Our official organ is not an appropriate forum for Scott to express his racist and sexist views. I was embarrassed as a USTTA member to have people around the world read this garbage. Scott may have a high table tennis rating, but I rate him close to zero as a human being.
Tim in the May-June issue tried to rationalize his decision to run the article as ‘Truth and Beauty’ or freedom of expression. The people I talked to thought it was false and ugly. I am the editor of a monthly publication and don’t agree with the freedom part either. I publish highly critical letters, but I also try to use some judgment, standards of decency, and common sense about what gets into print. Members of the Ku Klux Klan are entitled to freedom of speech, but if one writes a polemic against blacks, Jews, Vietnamese immigrants, or whatever, he is not entitled to have a reputable newspaper such as the New York Times print it.”
The third article is by Wu Ching-Shyue from Gardena, Ca. It reads:
“To the Editor:
I’m glad to see ‘Timmy’s Table Tennis World.’ It’s a good thing to have a USTTA Topics [sic] and another, non-official publication whose editor is a good reporter and a very dedicated T.T. promoter.
I like Tim Boggan’s interviews—in Topics with both U.S. Closed finalists, and in Timmy’s with both U.S. Open finalists. The reports are valuable—are important and enjoyable.
I appreciate Timmy’s high-performance efforts.”
And now the snippets from my early subscribers—all written personally to me, but not as Letters to the Editor, so I keep the writers anonymous here. I’ve tried to pick from the notes and letters sent me the most representative, varied, and interesting excerpts. Here they are:
“First of all, I want to wish you the best of luck in developing a new table tennis publication. I can imagine what a tough task you have in front of you. Secondly, I would like to apologize as a member of the USTTA concerning your sudden and cowardly dismissal by the USTTA.
To be perfectly honest, Tim, there were several things I did not like about “Topics.” The main areas of my dislike were:
Prejudicial comments towards your sons or friends (comments like: Danny played great, but Eric was sick or tired or just not interested).
Rambling articles such as Scott’s travels—which have very little, if anything, to do with table tennis.
Too many personality conflicts in print which were run into the ground.
However, even with these objections your strong points in my opinion FAR outweigh your weaknesses in regards to Topics. I know you have been underpaid for years (the new Editor is making almost twice as much as you—ridiculous! You should have been paid that much a while ago!). I know you have poured your heart, your sweat, your tears, your life into this publication. In many ways Topics is your child and I feel very badly about how you have been treated by the USTTA.
Tim, I have also heard that Mr. Wintrich was put on the USTTA payroll BEFORE the Board approved the appointment and that your dismissal was only by a one-vote margin and that was conducted in secret ballot. A one-vote margin is hardly an overwhelming mandate! I have nothing at all against Mr. Wintrich. In fact, I hope he is successful at his new position. I wish that the USTTA would have discussed any problems they felt existed with you. Then we could have had your energy and creativity giving “Topics” a heart and a soul with some occasional editorial help to reduce your penchant for showing paternal favoritism or rambling on! I strongly feel that the majority of USTTA members feel like I do. Tim, we really do miss you!
Concerning your favoritism of your sons in print I can understand your feelings. You have two National Champion table tennis players. It’s only natural that you want to tell the world. Eric may one day be World Champion—I certainly hope so. Also, even though Eric occasionally can’t control himself on court…he seems to have greatly improved his self-control in the last year and I want to let you know many people have noticed this. Tim, just let the boys’ actions at the table speak for them, they do it very well.
The only reason I bring up these negative points is to let you know how the ‘rank and file’ feels. A few criticisms, but basically strong in your favor.
Tim, if I can help you, then please let me know.”
“Your stuff is so far superior it is sad. But can you survive? It burns me up. The mention of your sons as players to your detriment. Why and how? Is the USTTA aiding and abetting your efforts with your mag? You can only do good for them. Much success.”
“Enclosed is $15 and a few words.
Please, more articles by Eric, and none by Scott. Scott’s articles are poor and not edited, not to mention narrow-minded. [Huh? I, Tim, edited them. And, oh, I guess you didn’t like Scott’s ending: “But in this sport, even if you’re a star, people who don’t know you, who don’t talk to you, who really have no interest in you, can, more often than not, get you all wrong.”] I want up-to-date information, not tournaments that were played three months ago. Also, I think articles by Jack Carr and Don Gunn are useless. I want to know what is really going on in the world of table tennis. I don’t like reading about how someone got stuck in an airport, or who they tried to pick up. Also, the front and back cover of your mag is a waste! The bottom line is you have to edit. Please do so.”
“Congratulations on the first issue of your new paper. Your coverage of the international scene and the World’s was excellent, not to mention the National’s. Except for the ads, ‘Spin’ has no artwork. In sharp contrast, the Peter Thulke drawing on the front page of your paper is a work of beauty and the miniatures throughout definitely enhance the appeal to the reader’s eye.
But, obviously, the big question is and will be whether you can attract enough subscribers and advertisers to stay in business. Most people in TT are notorious penny pinchers so it won’t be easy. However, if quality will do it you are on your way.
Enclosed is a check for $100 for a multi-year subscription. If anybody can do it, Tim Boggan can.”
“Scott, just read your article in Topics [sic]. Hey, don’t sell the movie rights until you talk to me. Seriously, I enjoyed it. Maybe that’s where your future is—on the best-seller list.”
”I howled while reading Scott’s version of his adventures abroad and with ‘broads,’ ‘foxes,’ and ‘chicks.’ Sounds like he was a fox himself in the chicken coop.”
“I regret to see that you no longer publish Topics. Although I disagree with many of your views and sometimes with your writing style, I nevertheless found Topics always interesting, controversial, and thought-provoking.
I disagree with the USTTA’s apparent attempt to centralize everything in Colorado Springs. I feel that something as important as changing the official USTTA publication completely should have been put to a vote of the entire membership.”
“Hooray for Timmy!
And Timmy’s North American World of Table Tennis.
But mostly for Timmy himself.
When I saw ‘Spin,’ a ridiculous name for a table tennis newspaper with an even more idiotic explanation of why the name was chosen, I was terribly disappointed. I realized what inside politicking had finally done to you. Actually I think it is a conspiracy against you because they are jealous of your enthusiasm and elan for table tennis. Over the years you’ve provided information, controversy, excitement, and a sense of being alive that I am sure will disintegrate under the new direction.
So I was overjoyed when I received Timmy’s North American WOTT. I should have known that you wouldn’t take being dismissed lying down. I am very pleased to see that you have somehow gotten the wherewithal to continue your service to table tennis uninterrupted.”
“Thank you for sending me a copy of your new magazine. I have let my subscription to ‘Topics’ lapse for about a year and am not familiar with the apparent falling out you must have had with the ‘powers that try to be” in the USTTA. I am familiar, however, with the petty politics which seem to plague table tennis associations. Having some idea of the work and risk in your “taking up arms against a sea of troubles,” I am glad to give my humble support and encouragement to such brash and brave heroics….
P.S. I am also curious as to what heights the art of the double-entendre can soar in the unfettered hands of the “bashing, baiting, boisterous, bearded bard.”
“Hooray for you and your new publication. Let me just say a few words about that ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ sterile magazine called ‘Spin.’ The new editor’s introductory message concerning you and your involvements and achievements in Table Tennis and the ‘Topics’ was transparent and hollow, and smacked of arrogance and condescension. I found the magazine ‘Spin’ lacking in information, panache, and style. Also, the format for tournament results was poor. I want to know the score and how many games the matches went.”
“Received, not long ago, Timmy’s North American World of Table Tennis. Where is the four-color photograph? How can we, in this day and age, put up with an editor who does not ‘compose all copy on his own terminal’ (Spin magazine). And, most important: How can I help? Enclosed is my subscription. If I can contribute more, let me know.”
:So far this will have to suffice as my first involvement with your new magazine. Your first issue was excellent—just the loop SPIN both anticipated and feared.
Once I get more active in the sport I’ll send you a couple of articles. Good luck. As you know, you’ve got a lot of support out here!”
“I would like to wish you the very best of luck. Any magazine with your name on it is tops with me.”
“I wish you and your ‘new’ paper luck and success. I know how much writing means to you. And you’ve always been a fine reporter with that extra ‘Boggan’ touch….”
“What a title! What a paper! What a publisher!
I loved Timmy’s North American. When can we expect issues that cover South, West, and East, as well as Asia, Europe and Antartica? No kidding, there’s potential there.
How do you do it? So much copy, so many names, etc. I admire your thoroughness.
Good luck. I wish you the best of success with it. Show those USTTA adders.”
“Any time you need $15, I’m your man. However, I think you’re crazy. It’ll never work without the ratings. But I’m awed by your enthusiasm.”
I’m very happy to receive ‘Timmy’s World of Table Tennis.’ I appreciate very much. The reason I write this letter a week after I received it is that I want to give you some information about your ‘Timmy’s World of T.T.’
I went to T.T. clubs everyday this week—with your T.T. World. I asked people’s opinions. Most 95% people think Timmy’s T.T. World is better than the Spin. T.T.T. has far better content & more information—and I think so too. But I didn’t hear too much people say they’re going to subscribe it. (I didn’t ask too many people.) I and my friend are going to subscribe it.
Good luck. God bless you.”
“Here’s an article and a subscription check. Ease off on the sour grapes—did you consider it a lifetime appointment?
“I love your magazine! It’s nice to know the ‘old’ Topics is not going to die.”
“Ya shoulda called it Topics.”
The first issue was great! Keep up the good work. Keep the pressure on Spin. Write Tom under the Table!”
“Congratulations on continuing your superb work in spite of the USTTA. PLEASE keep it up. If you need anything from us folks…just yell.
Here’s my subscription, plus. Give one to someone who can’t afford it, or keep it…whatever.”
“I’m happy to enclose my check for a subscription to Timmy’s. I thought your first issue was great! I was pleased to find it loaded with a variety of articles: U.S. Open, interviews, tactics and strategy, equipment, clarification of new rules, local tournament results, etc.
No one has ever doubted your intense love for the game, and it continues to show in your fine publication.”
“Find enclosed $15 check for one year (U.S.) subscription of Timmy’s North American World of T.T. Thanks for continuing to bring the blood & guts of TT to the fanatics.”
“Great paper. I enjoyed the contents thoroughly and appreciated the effort involved. Give ‘m hell, Tim.”
“Please send two subscriptions to your magazine. One for_____ and one for _____. Go for it, Tim!!!
P.S. We know one issue is not enough to go on, but your paper makes the other one look like SHIT!!!”
“Bravo, Tim, Bravo! Sign me up.”
“If you’re behind it, I’ll support it. Good luck….”
“Do it now, Timmy, do it for T.T.!”
“Congratulations on your fine paper. The sport is going to be too big for just one newspaper anyhow! In fact, the USTTA should recognize your paper as another official publication and help defer your expenses. I can tell you that response to your paper in Seattle was terrific. I’m urging everyone to subscribe. I knew you had too much fight to roll over and close the presses.
Power to the pen.”
“Best of success with this new venture. I’m sorry the way things turned out with the USTTA. Enclosed is $30 for a two-year subscription. No one ever said I didn’t have confidence!
P.S. If I can be of any help to you in any way—please let me know.”
“Word has it that your newspaper is fantastic. ‘The best you’ve ever done! We couldn’t be happier for you. I’m sure these past few months have been hell but I’ll bet this new venture will be the best thing that could happen to you.”
“Tim, I feel sad because I can appreciate the tremendous effort, the long hours and the love you personally poured into each issue of ‘Topics’ over the years. For ‘Topics’ you sacrificed a great deal. That your wife stood still for it is unbelievable! She has to be someone special—but then the Boggans are ALL something special and a cut above the rest of us.
As I have supported the USTTA, Topics, and your efforts in the past, I will continue to do so in the future. Attached is my check covering my subscription for the coming year. I feel and I hope you do too that the competition between you and ‘Spin’ will prove healthy to all and in the best interest of our sport. I do, however, for what it is worth, feel that the changeover could have been handled more gracefully and with more appreciation for your efforts over the years.
Though you may not realize it yet, they may have done you a very big service. At least now you will be doing it ‘your way’ without anyone looking over your shoulder.”
Readers will understand that the rival publications, SPIN and “Timmy’s,” force me as Historian to be more comprehensive in my coverage. But, as always, I intend to be as complete and entertaining as I can be.